General Convention: All said and done

Both houses of the General Convention stood adjourned by 6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 3. Some deputies and bishops had already started departing, and most of the exhibitors were gone. For the most part, however, the convention was still near its full legislative capacity. Throughout the General Convention, the deputies, alternates, and bishop from the Diocese of California were extremely active and played pivotal roles. 

Only two dioceses — California and Massachusetts — had their full deputations assigned to committees. Committee assignemnts for the Diocese of California were 

  • The Rev. Vanessa Glass, 20 — Marriage
  • The Rev. Eric Metoyer, 1 — Dispatch of Business
  • The Rev. Richard Helmer — Review of Resolutions
  • The Rev. Paul Fromberg — 11, Prayerbook, Liturgy, and Music
  • Sarah Lawton — 8, Social Justice and US Policy
  • Warren Wong — 5, Governance and Structure
  • Carolyn Gaines — 19, Confirmation of the Presiding Bishop
  • Rod Dugliss — 12, Formation and Education

The Rev. Vanessa Glass served on the special legislative committee on marriage, and the Rev. Paul Fromberg and the Rev. Ruth Meyers were active advocates and speakers for the resolutions concerning marriage. In the House of Deputies, Fromberg said “The liturgy from I will bless you and you will be a blessing approved in 2012 was a gift from LGBT* Episcopalians to the whole of the church,” now that it has been authorized for use with same-sex and opposite-sex couples. 

The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, formerly canon to the ordinary for the Diocese of California, served as the executive officer of the General Convention and brought a radical change to the format of convention: For the first time ever it was paperless. Duties and bishops, rather than having three-ring binders full of paper had virtual binders on iPads. The virtual binders could be updated as wording of resolutions changed, amendments were offered, and after committees made their reports.

As a sign of his continual, ongoing work for LGBT* inclusion in the full life of the church as well as civil society, Bishop Andrus was the concelebrant at the Integrity Eucharist, which was an official worship service of General Convention for the first time this year. Rather than being in a hotel ballroom, participants at the Integrity Eucharist were fed from the same table as those at every other Eucharist. He also served on Committee 16, the first General Convention committee on the environment. Committee 16 passed legislation on greening congregations (with funding), food security, and fossil fuel divestment.

Deputies and bishops were not the only people from the Diocese of California busy through General Convention, though! Stories and recaps were written daily by the communications working group (links collected here), and the Rev. Hailey McKeefry Delmas blogged regularly about the General Convention here. The Rev. Sylvia Vasquez, rector at St. Paul’s, Walnut Creek, was a volunteer supervisor who coordinated Spanish translation equipment for deputies who did not speak English, primarily from Province IX. The Rev. Julia McCray-Goldsmith presented on storytelling and evangelism at the Young Adult Festival. Denise Obando was part of the secretariat and worked tirelessly to keep the convention’s business moving daily. Scott Pomerenk, p/BSG, created a video that was shown during a House of Deputies vote — in addition to this other work.

The Rev. Paula Nesbitt, Ph.D., was at General Convention after having chaired the Executive Council’s Committee on the Status of Women for the last triennium. That committee has created Cast Wide the Net, which “offers resources for ordained women to help in their career development and also to assist search committees and others seeking a wide range of talented candidates across the church.” Along the same lines, the Rev. Canon Stefani Schatz organized gatherings of women clergy to discuss women’s leadership in large congregations, cathedrals, and in the House of Bishops. More about her work, Breaking the Episcopal Glass Ceiling, is available on PCN Online. The Rev. Frannie Hall-Kieshnick attended General Convention in support of Thistle Farms. Caren Miles from St. John’s, Ross, coordinated the children’s program throughout the length of General Convention, and the Rev. Christ Rankin-Williams, also from St. John’s, Ross, participated in a relay to raise money for Episcopal Relief and Development. Rankin-Williams was also instrumental in the presence of Black Lives Matter signs at the General Convention.* 

Photos from the convention are available on the Diocese of California’s Facebook page. The photos range from the Integrity Eucharist to a march against gun violence to deputies and bishops testifying. In the coming weeks, the bishop’s staff will be reviewing all passed legislation and communicating to congregations and leadership the new and ongoing impacts of the legislation.

*This article was updated on July 7 to include the contributions to General Convention made by Caren Miles and the Rev. Chris Rankin-Williams. Their initial exclusion was an oversight by the author and editors.